Thursday, June 13, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey

Welcome to Istanbul, Turkey!
"If the world was a single state, Istanbul would be the capital." -Napoleon
 
We flew into Istanbul on the Asian side of Turkey, which is about an hour drive from Istanbul itself. There was a time when I thought Paris, France had the craziest drivers...I now know that is not the case......It's Istanbul!! We got a ride to the hotel from a crazy cabbie who was smoking, texting and blaring his Turkish music all while dodging cars and speeding like a mad man!! This was our first realisation that we were back in the city life.  He was a very nice man though, offering us his Turkish candy and pointing out landmarks along the way. However, he didn't speak a lick of English, so there was quite a language barrier. It was a really cool experience and I love Turkish music! Once we arrived in Istanbul, we checked into the Hotel Uyan, I would definitely stay here again. Beautiful hotel! It's located in the heart of Sultanahmet, just 50 metres from the world-famous St. Sophia, Basilica Cistern & Blue Mosque. 
  
The hotel has a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the city, so the first thing we did was check out our surroundings from the rooftop.  
View of the Blue Mosque from the Hotel Uyan. 
 
 After we saw what we could from the rooftop, we set out to get a street view of the Blue Mosque.
And grabbed some delicious lunch at Afiyet Olsum. The phrase "Afiyet Olsun" means "Enjoy Your Meal" in Turkish and we definitely did!
 
We were on a mission to purchase a Turkish Rug for our Living Room, so we headed towards the Grand Bazaar. I try to purchase a piece of artwork from every country we visit and I think a large, beautiful Turkish Rug will suffice just fine!!
No such luck in the Grand Bazaar, so we decided to check out the side streets and take some photos on the way. 
After many shady rug stores and even shadier rug salesman, we stumbled across this little gem, Araf Pırlanta Kuyumculuk. The store was clean, the salesman was professional, not pushy and we found "the one" finally! Yayaya!! 
 
Now that my chores are done, I can relax. The salesman brought me some Turkish Black Tea while he packaged up our purchase.
We dropped the rug off at the Hotel Uyan and headed down to the Sea of Marmara for a walk alongside the water.
This would never fly back in the states....So horrible!
We purchased some pistachios and cashews from a local street vendor, they were delicious.
 
After our stroll down by the Sea, we went to Kumkapi District.
Kumkapı is an old Ottoman Greek and Armenian fisherman's district near the Sea of Marmara shore. It's centered on a small plaza where six streets meet. It's surrounded by seafood restaurants, and the restaurants line many of the streets radiating from the plaza.
The Kumkapi district was so much fun!!! There were people everywhere, loud music, bright lights, delicious food, vendors, hookahs being passed around, laughter and dancing everywhere. We sat down for dinner at the Kalamar Restaurant and enjoyed the chaos from the balcony while enjoying our dinner.
 
 
 Hookah anyone?
 
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and stopped off for a couple night caps along the way!! Amazing day in Istanbul!
 
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